for Sammamish Review on Sept. 10, 2010
The music, dancing and eating lingered late into the night Sept. 1 as thousands of families from around the Seattle area flocked to the Vedic Cultural Center along 228th Avenue Southeast. The line just to enter the temple stretched through the parking lot and down the sidewalk to the water district’s water tower.
This night was the main event of the five-day Kumbha Mela festival, one of the largest and most significant Indian cultural festivals of the year, said Nanda Suta Das, co-executive director of the center.
By some estimates, 35,000 people visited the Sammamish Hare Krishna temple to celebrate the birth of Krishna during Janmastami Sept. 1 and 2. The finale lasted until 2 a.m. Sept. 2.
“This is the biggest festival we have in this temple,” Suta Das said. “This year is the biggest so far; it feels that way.”
While children performed dances in traditional Indian garb and the older youth entertained visitors with a drum and chant routine, hundreds of families at a time enjoyed free meals at four food stations. The festivities spilled out onto the back patio and parking lot, too.
“It’s truly connecting the communities of varying ages and groups,” Suta Das said.
Throughout the night, various singers chanted and performed as the line of devotees eased toward the main altar. The deities were adorned with fruits, jewelry and fine garments, which were imported from India.
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